The Mars rover travels 6.5 meters in a first “flawless” path | Science and Technology News

The Perseverance rover can travel 200 meters per day, but scientists must perform tests and safety checks before venturing further.

From NASA Mars rover Perseverance made its first short drive to the surface of the Red Planet, two weeks after the robot science lab made a perfect landing on the floor of a massive crater, mission officials said on Friday.

The Perseverance rover first ventured from its landing position Thursday, two weeks after landing on the red planet look for signs of past life.

Taking instructions from mission directors at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles, the rover rolled four meters (13.1 feet) forward, turned approximately 150 degrees to its left , then retreated 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) for a total of 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) during its half-hour test in Jezero Crater, site of a ancient lake bed and a long-lost river delta on Mars.

“It went incredibly well,” said Anais Zarifian, JPL mobility test engineer for Perseverance, in a conference call with reporters, calling it a “huge milestone” for the mission.

The roundabout, back and forth only lasted 33 minutes and went so well that the six-wheeled rover hit the road again on Friday.

Perseverance is able to cover an average of 200 meters of driving per day.

The surface of Mars directly below NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover is seen using the Rover Down-Look camera in an image acquired on February 22, 2021 [File: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout via Reuters]

NASA posted a photo taken by the rover showing the wheel tread marks left in the reddish, sandy Martian soil after its first ride.

Another vivid image of the surrounding landscape shows rugged, ruddy terrain littered with large dark boulders in the foreground and a high outcrop of layered rock deposits in the distance – marking the edge of the river delta.

So far, Perseverance and its hardware, including its main robotic arm, appear to be working flawlessly, according to Robert Hogg, deputy director of the mission.

But JPL engineers still have additional equipment checks to perform on the rover’s many instruments before they are ready to send the robot on a more ambitious journey as part of its primary mission to search for traces of fossilized microbial life. .

The team has yet to perform any tests after the rover has landed. sophisticated system to drill and collect rock samples for return to Earth via future missions to Mars.

The deck of NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover, featuring a planetary instrument for X-ray lithochemistry, one of the instruments on its folded arm, is seen in an image taken by the rover’s navigation cameras on Mars February 20, 2021 [File: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout via Reuters]

As soon as the system checks on persistence are complete, the rover will head to a former river delta to collect rocks for return to Earth in a decade.

Scientists wonder whether to take the smoother route to get to the nearby delta or perhaps a more difficult route with intriguing remnants of that once watery era three to four billion years ago.

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